One of the most challenging aspects of breaking into film is the high upfront cost. Just getting started, or even after having begun, it can take a while to acquire the funds necessary to start building that all-important portfolio that you will need to get future gigs. There are many levels of camera out there, and they all meet different needs, making it easy to find the best camera for filmmaking on a budget. Knowing what camera in your budget fits your needs the best is vital to bringing your vision to life with enough quality to do it justice.One thing you don’t want to do is waste your money on a camera that is better for photography, or even worse, one that is for the general user. The good news is that there are options out there that can suit your filming needs and give you good results without putting you completely out. This article will take you to the best camera for filmmaking on a budget for you.

Comparison Table

via GIPHY

Types To Consider

Figuring out the best camera for filmmaking on a budget is an extremely subjective process, but we have done our best to provide all of the information you will need. Your best may not be the best for someone else, and price restrictions make knowing your specific needs even more important, as you need to know what you are willing to sacrifice and what you are not in the selection of your camera.

You will need to consider the gear you already have (or do not have), and what type of camera suits your intended purpose. For instance, if you do not have a tripod and you will be shooting something highly active, like a sporting event, you will have to prioritize a quality auto focus and probably want to go with a camera of the mirrorless variety.

If you’ve spent a pretty penny on good editing software and you know your way around it well, it could be in your best interest to look at a DSLR, as the files can really be taken to the next level and given a professional look with the right editing. Knowing what type will work with your purpose is the first step to deciding what budget camera is best (for you).

DSLR

dslr

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This is the best option for versatility. The interchangeable lenses, although they come at an extra cost, offer ways to build on what you can achieve with the camera rather than looking for a new camera. They are definitely the most popular affordable option for this customizability and for this simple fact that they give good results.As mentioned before, with the right additional tools and skills, your film can very easily get a professional look using a DSLR. The key factors in influencing the quality of the result will be your own technical proficiency and ability to plan your shots, as well as what gear you have, such as a mount or gimble, and good to great lighting.

Mirrorless

camera

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Being a newer type of camera, the mirrorless ones tend to be a little pricier. However, the quality is really worth it. You may still prefer to use a DSLR, as popular as they are, but the mirrorless cameras will definitely give you quality imaging. They also still have the option for lens changes and are smaller, if that is something that is important to your use.   Since there is no mirror used in the image processing, these types of cameras tend to have a better autofocus than any of the other ones you could be considering. This may be important if you need to capture a lot of quick motion, or it may be something you won’t necessarily need to prioritize; but either way this is definitely going to be one of the more trusty options if you can afford to shell out just a little bit more.

Point And Shoot

camera

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If you need a camera that you can easily take with you and get quick shots (little time to adjust features and set-up), then point and shoot may be for you. They tend to be a little cheaper than the previous options. We like to look at point and shoot cameras as almost a mid-ground between the bulky and feature-driven DSLRs and the compact and relatively feature-less action cameras.

Even if you already have your main camera for shooting, the price point and portability could make it worth it to choose one of these as your back up camera for those unexpected shot ideas that can hit you in the field. The main thing to look for is that the camera shoots video at 1080p and your own technical proficiency with lighting and post-processing.

Camcorder

camcorder

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Although arguably the least popular on this list of camera types, camcorders still come with certain advantages. The quality is going to be on par with the other cameras, and sometimes at a slightly lower cost. The strap and ease of holding could be beneficial depending on your intended use, and the optical zoom is probably the biggest selling point for this type. The shape and strap of the camcorder mean that it is easier to get good shots with handheld, as you only need one hand and there should be less potential for shake. They can also work with tripods the same as other cameras, shoot in 1080p, are relatively compact, and are an affordable option.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on Features, Pros & Cons, Where to Buy, and Warranty. This information was collected through research including evaluation of product parameters and specifications, user reviews, and cross-product comparisons. The aim was to make this a thorough and comprehensive guide in selecting a product suitable to your needs. Rest assured, this list truly will take you to the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.

Overall Price Range

The cameras featured on this list are not going to give you everything for a fully professional filmmaking experience, and you may find that your price point requires sacrificing a feature or two. Also note that prices fluctuate and it is possible you could find another suitable model in this range if you look for really good sales.

That being said, this list includes cameras that are on or around $$$ at the time of the list compilation. Quality cameras can get extremely expensive as features and more advanced processors and construction come into play, so these are the best at each particular price point.

assorted black and white cameras

Image Source: pexels.com

What We Reviewed

  • Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera
  • Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR
  • Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR
  • Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
  • YI 4K Action and Sports Camera
  • Panasonic HC-V380K Full HD Camcorder with Wi-F
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70S
  • Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera

Sale
Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6...
  • 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS C) image sensor and high performance DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for excellent speed and quality
  • ISO 100 6400 (expandable to H: 12800) for shooting from bright light to low light. Compatible with Eye Fi Cards....
  • Built in Wi Fi and NFC connectivity provide easy sharing to compatible smart devices, select social media sites and the...

Features

Key features of this product include an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) image sensor and DIGIC 4+ image processor that shoots in 1080p and full HD. It also has a range of ISO from 100-6400, a 9-point Auto Focus system and a high performance optical viewfinder, aiding in AF capabilities as well. Another feature this DLSR has to offer is its Wifi and NFC connectivity.

Pros

  • Great battery life for long shoot
  • Quality processor
  • Lens-changing capabilities

Cons

  • Does not use dual pixel AF
  • No mic jack
  • ISO range will not give you the best image in low light

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX...
  • This Certified Refurbished product is manufacturer refurbished, shows limited or no wear, and includes all original...
  • 24.2 MP DX format CMOS sensor,Display Screen 3.0 Inch Rear Screen, LCD (921000)
  • EXPEED III Image Processing

Features

Key features of this product include its 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor, Expeed 3 image processor, full HD capture in 1080p, an ISO range of 100-6400, and an 11-point autofocusing system. Another feature this DSLR has is Wifi and NFC connectivity, which can make some things in the field a little easier. It has many similarities with the Canon Rebel but can tend to be a little pricier with its more advanced sensor.

Pros

  • The same megapixels and processor as the more expensive D600
  • Many modes to shoot in
  • Lens changing capabilities

Cons

  • Limited ISO
  • Not the strongest zoom capabilities
  • Screen can be difficult to see in bright locations

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR

Sale
Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (Red)
  • SnapBridge Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 24.2MP DX Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor,Interface:HDMI output: Type C mini-pin HDMI connector, Hi Speed USB; connection to built in USB...

Features

Key features of this DSLR include 4.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, HDMI and USB connectors, an ISO range of 100-25600, and Bluetooth connectivity. The ISO will go higher than several of the others on this list, making it ideal if you will be shooting in a lot of low-light situations.

Pros

  • High quality sensor
  • More advanced imaging processor
  • Higher ISO for low light scenarios
  • Changeable lenses

Cons

  • Slightly more basic features
  • Screen can be difficult to see in harsh lighting

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens...
  • 20.1 MP Exmor APS-C sensor for great images
  • Mirror less DSLR - Compact Interchangeable Lens camera system
  • Quick Wi-Fi connectivity to smartphones via NFC

Features

Key features of this product include 20.1 MP Exmor APS-C sensor, an ISO range of 100-16000, an 180-degree tilting screen, powerful autofocus, Full HD 1080p resolution, and Wifi and NFC connectivity. This mirrorless camera delivers on Sony’s good reputation for quality processing.

Pros

  • Mirrorless design controls blur
  • Decent ISO range
  • Tilting screen for different shoot situations
  • Changeable lenses

Cons

  • Slightly smaller sensor
  • No external mic jack
  • No shoe adapter

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

YI 4K Action And Sports Camera

YI 4K Action and Sports Camera, 4K/30fps Video 12MP Raw Image with...
  • Superb Image Quality - Records 4K/30fps (100mbps), 2. 7k/60fps, 1080p/120fps, 720p/240fps video, and 12MP raw image with...
  • Long battery life - high capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery records up to 120mins of 4K/30Fps video with a single...
  • Intuitive touchscreen UI - built-in 2. 2" high responsive LCD Touchscreen with 640 x 360 high resolution for easy...

Features

Key features of this product include a Sony IMX377 image sensor, Ambarella dual-core A9SE75, full HD and 4k, built-in electronic image stabilization, an ISO range of 100-6400, voice command, Bluetooth, and a long battery life. Being so compact and lightweight, this action camera is ideal for on the go, mounted, and tight shots.

Pros

  • High quality imaging
  • Doesn’t stop recording for duration of battery life
  • Voice command
  • Very compact
  • Accessory options can expand capabilities

Cons

  • Limited ISO
  • Lens not changeable

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

Panasonic HC-V380K Full HD Camcorder With Wi-F

Sale
Panasonic HC-V380K Full HD Camcorder with Wi-Fi Multi Scene Camera...
  • Super-sharp Full HD 1080p recording;3 inches touch-enabled LCD
  • Intelligent 90x zoom, with 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization provides maximum handheld stability
  • Wi-Fi and NFC enabled for quickly sharing content and controlling camcorder features remotely

Features

Key features of this product include 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization, a 90x optical zoom, 2.51 mp CMOS sensor, a good AF system, full HD 1080p, a 3-inch LCD touchscreen, and Wifi and NFC connectivity.

Pros

  • Quality autofocus
  • Good zoom
  • Strap makes handheld recording easy and stable

Cons

  • No external mic jack
  • ISO could be better

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty for parts and a 90-day warranty on labor.

Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70S

Sale
PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S, 20.3 Megapixel, 4K Digital Camera, Touch...
  • 20.3 Megapixel MOS sensor plus 30x Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR Lens (24-720mm), plus 5-axis Hybrid o.I.S. (Optical image...
  • 0.2-Inch 1, 166k-dot EVF (electronic view Finder) with eye-sensor for easier viewing under sunny outdoor conditions
  • 4K QFHD video recording (3840x2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking...

Features

Key features of this product include a 20.3 Megapixel MOS sensor, a 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilizer, full HD and 4k capabilities, an electronic view finder, 30x optical zoom, 3-inch rotatable display, and Wifi connection. This is a simple yet quality point and shoot camera for ease and assurance of quality results.

Pros

  • Strong image stabilization
  • Strong zoom
  • Viewfinder is helpful for harsh lighting situations

Cons

  • Sensor could be better
  • Not the most durable
  • No changing lense

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in...
  • 1.0-inch, 20.2 Megapixel* High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor combined with Canon's powerful DIGIC 6 Image Processor creates...
  • Ultra-slim, lightweight and pocket-size camera with intuitive LCD touch panel that has an improved user interface, which...
  • Capture stunning 1080p Full HD video (60p/30p/24p options) for lifelike images and convenient playback on an HDTV via...

Features

Key features of this product include a 1.0-inch, 20.2 Megapixel* High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 6 Image Processor, ISO up to 12800, full HD in 1080p, HDMI connect, WiFi and NFC connectivity, and intelligent image stabilizing. This is probably the best point and shoot camera in this price range

Pros

  • Can shoot in RAW
  • Quality image sensor
  • Good ISO for low light

Cons

  • Not the best battery life
  • Fewer customizability options than some others
  • No changeable lenses

Warranty

This comes with a 12-month warranty.

The Verdict And Best Camera For Filmmaking On A Budget

dslr

Image Source: pixabay.com

The better cameras, even on this list, are the more expensive ones. However, if you know your needs and know what sacrifices you can make to stay in budget, it is easy to find a camera that will give you a quality result. The best camera for filmmaking on a budget will be the one that meets the most of your needs the best. Our top picks from this list are the Nikon D3400 and the Sony Alpha A5000, but perhaps you need a lot of action footage; and in that case, you would save money and get better results by choosing the little powerhouse that is the YI 4k.

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